REFUGEES WELCOME

Sven Runkel - Acrylics - by Olly Duke
Olly interviewing Sven at the Red Cross Office in Wiehl

Sven Runkel

Head of Red Cross operations in Wiehl, Germany

As Jojy and I got to know Sven during our two-day stay in Wiehl while buying the 507d van, we realised had met someone special. Sven is head of the local Red Cross branch. Illness meant that he was free from work, so he could concentrate on running the centre. He’d been with the Red Cross for 30 years, on standby at festivals and football matches, and racing to car accidents and fires in support of the fire service – all as an unpaid volunteer.

“We’re trained paramedics,” explained the 41-year-old. “Then in 2016 the first wave of refugees arrived from the Middle East and North Africa. We were responsible for providing accommodation, checking everyone’s health and providing a medical service.

“I’ve seen people escaping from terrible situations. One woman lost her husband and children at sea in the flight from war-torn Syria. Another Syrian woman I met had survived a massacre of over 100 people – because she lay on the ground she was not shot. Others arrive because of political problems at home. We have refugees from Libya, Syria, Albania and even China. Some of these people have become close friends.”

He adds: “These people have been through hell. I hate war, and the wars in the Middle East have been created by our governments. I’ve seen what conflicts do to people and how they suffer. I’m disgusted that many European countries refuse to take in refugees and how they treat them. We should welcome all people. We are all part of the human race.”

It’s when you meet someone like Sven that you realise there’s hope for humanity.

Olly Duke (April 2018)

Sven Runkel - Acrylics - by Olly Duke

Sven Runkel

Head of Red Cross operations in Wiehl, Germany

As Jojy and I got to know Sven during our two-day stay in Wiehl while buying the 507d van, we realised had met someone special. Sven is head of the local Red Cross branch. Illness meant that he was free from work, so he could concentrate on running the centre. He’d been with the Red Cross for 30 years, on standby at festivals and football matches, and racing to car accidents and fires in support of the fire service – all as an unpaid volunteer.

“We’re trained paramedics,” explained the 41-year-old. “Then in 2016 the first wave of refugees arrived from the Middle East and North Africa. We were responsible for providing accommodation, checking everyone’s health and providing a medical service.

“I’ve seen people escaping from terrible situations. One woman lost her husband and children at sea in the flight from war-torn Syria. Another Syrian woman I met had survived a massacre of over 100 people – because she lay on the ground she was not shot. Others arrive because of political problems at home. We have refugees from Libya, Syria, Albania and even China. Some of these people have become close friends.”

He adds: “These people have been through hell. I hate war, and the wars in the Middle East have been created by our governments. I’ve seen what conflicts do to people and how they suffer. I’m disgusted that many European countries refuse to take in refugees and how they treat them. We should welcome all people. We are all part of the human race.”

It’s when you meet someone like Sven that you realise there’s hope for humanity.

Olly Duke (April 2018)

Olly interviewing Sven at the Red Cross Office in Wiehl
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